Daily Israel Report

European Jewish Leaders Demand Permanent Security in Belgium

Ad hoc security detail after horrific shooting 'just is not enough,' local leaders warn.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/27/2014, 9:18 AM

Belgian authorities have increased security in the Jewish community in Brussels following Saturday's horrific shooting attack, securing Jewish sites, synagogues, and schools from further harm. 

But Jewish leaders are fed up with growing anti-Semitism in Europe as a general phenomenon - and have called for permanent protection against future attacks. 

"Anti-Semitism is high, not only in Belgium, but in all of Europe," Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the director of the European Jewish Association, told CNN. "So for this reason, just to act after a terror attack, just [for] a couple of days, is absolutely not enough." 

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report revealing that 26% of the world's population - roughly 1 billion people - hold anti-Semitic views. In Belgium, anti-Semitism speaks to more than 1/4 of the population; the number jumps to 1/3 in France. 

Rabbi Margolin demands that Europe officially address the problem - and fast. 

"We demand from the government of Europe that each [country's] government will create an official ministry - under the supervision of the prime minister - that will take the lead to fight against anti-Semitism," the Rabbi stated. 

Permanent protection: a viable solution? 

Rabbi Margolin's declaration joins a chorus of criticism over the European government's handling of the attack, which many Jewish leaders claim has been lackluster. Demands for a permanent solution are growing.  

"While we don’t not yet have full information regarding the background to this attack, we are acutely aware of the permanent threat to Jewish targets in Belgium and across the whole of Europe," European Jewish Council (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Cantor stated Saturday night.  "European governments must send out a clear message of zero tolerance towards any manifestation of anti-Semitism."

Dr. Cantor reiterated the EJC's demands for full protection in an official statement Sunday. 

"The EJC has been warning for over two years, since the murderous terror attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse, that such acts will continue if no additional resources are put into place to guarantee the security of our communities, to share intelligence and law enforcement cooperation and tougher punishments," he said. "It is unacceptable that this situation, based around the importation of the Middle East conflict, or any other anti-Semitic motivation, is brought onto the streets of Europe with deadly results at the heart of our communities." 

"How many more deadly attacks at Jewish institutions does our community need to endure until European governments get serious with a climate of increasing hate towards Jews? " Dr. Cantor continued. "The time for words and platitudes is over. We demand that our communities [be] protected. It is our basic right as European citizens to go about our daily lives in full security."

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder echoed the need for permanent protection, in an official WJC statement released Sunday. 

“Today, the entire Jewish world mourns the four innocent victims who lost their lives in this horrible attack," Lauder said. "Tomorrow, we must all work together to ensure that this doesn’t happen again."

"If that means to improve security at Jewish sites in Europe, we have no choice. It must be done. If not, more people may be able to carry out such terrible crimes." 

Lauder also compared Saturday's attack to the 2012 shooting in Toulouse. 

“Two years after Toulouse, and on the eve of the European elections, this despicable attack is yet another terrible reminder of the kind of threats Europe’s Jews are currently facing," Lauder said. "It is therefore of critical importance that the authorities in Belgium do everything to bring the perpetrators to justice as fast as possible, and that they ensure that in the future adequate protection is given to sensitive sites."